Handel and His Miraculous Messiah

    Handel’s Messiah dates back to 1742, an Oratorio that pulls out all the stops, usually connected with Christmas, but actually follows the whole life of our Saviour from His birth, through His Passion, to His glorious Resurrection. And that triumph of Christ over death

    The work is European in a cosmopolitan sense: Written by a German, who had become a naturalised British subject, with a libretto in English, and first performed in Ireland.

    George Frideric Handel wrote the score in a quasi-miraculous 24 days over the summer of 1741. That is 259 pages of orchestral and vocal music in four-part polyphony, originally scored for 2 trumpets, timpani, 2 oboes, 2 violins, viola, and basso continuo. Handel’s hurried notes show very few corrections, ending with the magnificent Halleluiah chorus, glorifying the triumph of Christ over death, which is what all those alleluias are all about. The legend, is that the music was divinely inspired, written in haste like the shepherds to Bethlehem, as the words and music flowed down from the heavenly spheres. We may suppose all true art has some aspect of this.

    Here is what seems a new rendition by the American Bach Soloists and the American Bach Choir, who bring a breath of fresh air and exuberance to this timeless and hope-filled masterpiece. Listen, and enjoy: